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Pedlar of partnerships

Ruth Morris lifelong learning manager Huddersfield new college

Ruth Morris has found herself at the cutting edge of governmentpolicy as the new project officer charged with strengthening partnerships among the eight FE colleges in Leeds. The 40-year-old lifelong learning manager for Huddersfield New College is looking forward to the task.

"At the Association of Colleges' recent conference, David Blunkett said he wanted colleges to specialise," Ms Morris said. "Leeds is very well set to respond to that."

Quite a few of the Leeds partnership's members were specialist colleges already, she said, while other general FE colleges had specialist areas of interest. For example, Thomas Danby also specialises in food and technology.

Ms Morris, who has worked in management roles at Huddersfield New College for more than 12 years, said there is a great need for more joined-up thinking in all areas of education. The partnership, she says, s a useful way of making sure this happens in FE in Leeds.

Its purpose , she says, is to ensure collaboration takes place and colleges make a coherent educational offering to the people of Leeds.

The idea is to enhance what individual colleges do, co-ordinate their work and to identify opportunities for joint curriculum, planning and quality initiatives. Unnecessary course duplication must also be avoided.

Ms Morris, who commuted the 22 miles daily to Huddersfield, is looking forward to working in her own city. "I am a great believer in Leeds and its opportunities," she said. "But there are also a lot of challenges about widening participation and social inclusion.

"I am very positive about co-ordination in further education. We are back into a new partnership era."

In her spare time, Ms Morris grows organic vegetables on her allotment, walks, cycles and cares for a child with special needs.

Simon Midgley

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